Retired Firefighter Spent Years Behind The Scenes



A lot of people know that Payson resident Dean Firmin was once a Hawaii firefighter, but many do not know he was involved in the movie and television industry for more than 30 years.

Firmin, vice president of the International Association of Stage Employees Mixed Local 665 union, said the movie industry was his part-time job, with the Hawaii Fire Department being his full-time career.


Dean Firmin

Firmin visited his brother-in-law in 1968 in California after serving in the Vietnam War, and was introduced to the television and movie industry. He worked on popular shows like "Gomer Pyle," "Bonanza," "That Girl," "Hogan's Heroes" and the 1970 movie, "The Molly McGuires."

His work on the set included roles as a laborer, carpenter, medic, boat handler, in special effects and as a steward.

Firmin returned to Hawaii and entered into an apprentice program in preparation of becoming a firefighter, a profession he stayed in for 25 years.

While working as a firefighter, he worked part time in the movie industry, mostly in special effects and boat handling for television shows like, "Hawaii Five-O" and "Magnum P.I."

He was also involved in the production of the movie "Pearl Harbor," which took about six months to finish.

"I was doing all of the explosives work," he said, adding that his experiences in underwater scenes and boating worked well for the movie industry.

He said the television and movie industry is not as glamorous as some may think.

If the show was a series that ran weekly, he and the rest of the crew worked nine months out of the year, 10 to 12 hours every day.

"It's really good money, but we do not work a normal day," he said. "A normal day is 12 hours, and we work six to seven days a week. When you go nine months working those hours, you are pretty well (beat)."

Of all of the movies he has worked on, Firmin said, the most enjoyable ones were "Pearl Harbor" and "Wind Talkers," where he worked as a medic.

He said he decided to move to Payson after he visited the secretary of a motorcycle group he belonged to who lives in the area.

"I came up to visit, and I liked the area," he said, adding that Hawaii has become too expensive for the average working people to live there.

By moving to Payson, Firmin is also closer to his son who is in the Special Forces while being stationed in Coronado, Calif.

While working in the television and movie industry was interesting, he said, his most enjoyable job was working as a firefighter, adding that he is a second-generation fireman.

"The fire department, without a doubt, was the highlight of my life," Firmin said.

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